Studies have shown that women are in general more prone to suffer from chronic pain compared to men. Pain is usually a symptom, it’s a sign that something is wrong in your body. This is the way pain is supposed to work and it is called nociceptive pain. It drives you to do something to fix the problem. As an example, suppose that you have got some kind of diffused general pain, and in some ways that pain prompts you to go to your physician who addresses the problem behind the pain in your body. A general idea here is, if the problem goes away, then the pain goes away.
Chronic Pain Is More Common In Women: What Is Chronic Pain?
Unfortunately, this is not the only type of pain that exists. There are other types of pain that are not proper pain. Such a kind of pain is neuropathic pain. Even patients who are not susceptible to any kind of injury before can have neuropathic pain. Nerves from all over your body will send various pain impulses to your brain even though there’s nothing really wrong with your body.
Neuropathic pain is very painful, sometimes almost unbearable. It is like a car alarm that is going off for no reason whereas a car alarm is supposed to tell you when somebody breaks into your car or when there is a problem. In cases of nociceptive pain, all you have to do is fix the underlying problem and the pain goes away, but if it is neuropathic pain, it is much more complicated. You have to try to dampen the nerve signals, block them or try to get in other signals that counteract the pain messages.
When pain becomes chronic, it stops being a symptom. The pain itself becomes the problem, it becomes the disease. Chronic pain is a kind of Neuropathic pain that lasts a long time. There are some arbitrary time definitions from three months to six months, but it has to be something that is going to be around for a long time. Chronic pain exists even though the original problems have gone away. For example, after surgery, the pain is supposed to go away eventually. If it does not, then you probably have some sort of chronic pain condition. Chronic pain is very significant because it has the power to diminish your quality of life.
Central sensitivity is another type of chronic pain syndrome when the nerves in your body are probably functioning properly but your brain and spinal cord are amplifying a pain message and turning it into something that is extremely painful.
👉 How it impacts women’s lives :
A classic central sensitivity syndrome is fibromyalgia. In women, it is diagnosed ten times more frequently compared to men. Patients may feel a lot of musculoskeletal pain, sensitivity to pressure in different parts of the body, profound fatigue problems, sleeping/cognitive issues, or some other common disorders. It is also very controversial because there are so many things that mimic fibromyalgia. There is no clinical test for fibromyalgia, which means in order to get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia the physician has to exclude everything else that could possibly cause the symptoms. It is very tough to diagnose an invisible illness. There are no lab tests, no scan that we can do, a physician can only go off of what the patient is saying.
It is just a fact that women are more prone to various chronic pain disorders than men are.
- Some chronic pain syndromes, like endometriosis and vulvodynia are the ones that affect women exclusively.
- There are a lot of other ones, such as migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome and temporomandibular joint disorders that occur in women more than men.
- Chronic regional pain syndrome happens in women three times as much as in men.
- Classic lupus rash happens in women ten times as much, and it causes pain and fatigue all over the body.
- Rheumatoid arthritis happens in women three to four times than in men.
- Multiple sclerosis is something that happens in women four times as much as in men.
There are a lot of other cases, pregnancy or postpartum period when many chronic pain disorders are likely to happen. Also, some female hormones can cause an increase in the likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome and other pain conditions.
👉Why it affects women more :
Pain is an amalgam of fatigue with some cognitive and sensory issues. We see all these conditions that have some overlap that occurs in women more than men. A common question is “why does this happen?”. The medical community does not have a perfect answer right now, but we do know that women are more sensitive to pain than men. It takes less stimulus to cause pain in a woman. According to some preliminary data, women seem to be more prone to developing low levels of inflammation in the body and maybe also in the central nervous system that amplifies pain, compared to men.
👉Remedial measures :
The goal here is twofold. One is to get the pain levels down to a tolerable degree and the second one is to find ways to cope with the pain so that you can finally lead a productive and rewarding life. When a woman is faced with a chronic pain condition and she is told that she is going to be in pain for quite a while that is unlikely to go away anytime soon, it is tough as well as frightening. Be your own physician and track your symptoms every day. Maintain a strict diet, go see a dietitian if possible. Appoint a physiotherapist (or a family member) who can assist you with your exercises. Each day chronic pain will lead you further and further away from a healthy life. Keep your mental health in check. Meditate once in a while. Quality sleep is a must, if you have a bad night’s sleep it is going to make your pain worse the next day. The trick here is that everyone responds to a different approach, so you have to find the one that works best for you.
PainPathways is the first, only and ultimate pain magazine. First published in spring 2008, PainPathways is the culmination of the vision of Richard L. Rauck, MD, to provide a shared resource for people living with and caring for others in pain. This quarterly resource not only provides in-depth information on current treatments, therapies and research studies but also connects people who live with pain, both personally and professionally.